Obama says thank you to federal employees

October 17, 2013

President Obama gave a strong “thank you” to federal employees when he spoke at the White House on Thursday morning, the first day the government was fully operational after a 16-day shutdown that placed many workers on furlough.

President Obama walks away from the podium after speaking at the White House on Oct. 17. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
President Obama walks away from the podium after speaking at the White House on Oct. 17. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

“I’ve got a simple message for all the dedicated and patriotic federal workers who’ve either worked without pay or have been forced off the job without pay these past few weeks, including most of my own staff: Thank you. Thanks for your service. Welcome back,” he said. “What you do is important. It matters. You defend our country overseas. You deliver benefits to our troops, who have earned them, when they come home. You guard our borders. You protect our civil rights. You help businesses grow and gain footholds in overseas markets. You protect the air we breathe and the water our children drink, and you push the boundaries of science and space, and you guide hundreds of thousands of people each day through the glories of this country. Thank you. What you do is important, and don’t let anybody else tell you different, especially to the young people who come to this — this city to serve, believe that it matters. Well, you know what? You’re right. It does.”

Perhaps one good thing that came from the shutdown, according to Obama, is increased appreciation for the federal government.

“In fact, one of the things that I hope all of us have learned these past few weeks is that it turns out smart, effective government is important. It matters. I think the American people, during the shutdown, had a chance to get some idea of all the things large and small that government does that make a difference in people’s lives,” he said.

“And we hear all the time about how government is the problem. Well, it turns out we rely on it in a whole lot of ways. Not only does it keep us strong through our military and our law enforcement, it plays a vital role in caring for our seniors and our veterans, educating our kids, making sure our workers are trained for the jobs that are being created, arming our businesses with the best science and technology so they can compete with companies from other countries. It plays a key role in keeping our food and our toys and our workplaces safe. It helps folks rebuild after a storm. It conserves our natural resources. It finances startups. It helps to sell our products overseas. It provides security to our diplomats abroad.”

federaldiary@washpost.com

Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about the federal workplace that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012.
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Joe Davidson | October 17, 2013